Ichigo's journey to save Rukia continues, as he and his companions develop and increase their fighting power and skill in order to battle the members, lieutenants, and captains of the 13 Soul Reaper squads. Meanwhile, the squad captains learn that there is more to Rukia's imprisonment and planned execution than meets the eye, as a plot is unfurled that will eventually turn the entire Soul Society upside down.
I think I'm starting to understand how all those Dragonball Z fans must feel, because this Bleach story arc certainly is taking it's sweet time moving forward. When it started, I thought the whole thing about Ichigo going to save Rukia would last a few episodes before it moved on to other things. But as it's turns out, the story arc that started at the end of last season, still hasn't wrapped up by the end of this one.
Of course, I understand why it's taking so long. First of all, there are a ton of characters to introduce. And once they are introduced it needs to delve into their pasts, explain their fighting styles and techniques, and display all the wacky forms their zanpaktuou swords can take. Then there are all the episodes-long battles that take place where characters (especially Ichigo) will come near death, only get back up, dust themselves off and end up victorious.
That's not to say that all that character development and the intense fighting aren't incredibly cool. In fact, those elements are exactly what keep me watching. I said in my review of season 1 that I couldn't wait to find out what all the different soul reapers would be like and how their different swords would help them fight; and in that I have not been disappointed. The whole concept of how their swords have their own souls -- and their own personalities -- and work in unison with the soul reaper brings a fascinating new dimension to the show. And the fighting techniques and weapon designs just ooze creativity and originality.
Then there's Ichigo himself, the kid who seems to come near death at least 5 or 6 times in this one story arc only to recover each time to become all the more powerful. Most recently he is training with the spirit of his zanpaktuou as well as that inverse version of himself to attempt to reach "Bankai" -- a kind of super-elite power. I'm looking forward to seeing how that element is resolved, and seeing what his new zanpaktuou will end up looking like.
The animation and art have remained consistently high quality throughout its run. I still enjoy the original character designs of the soul reapers. And the animation during the battles is colorful and add to the intensity of the fights.
I haven't really noticed the music much in this season. I think it's pretty much the same as last season though and it seems to match each scene well. I don't particularly like the opening theme as much as last season, and the ending theme.... ugh... My wife, who is not a big anime fan but who seems to be enjoying this show, mocks the ending theme just about every episode. ^_^;
So despite the drawn out story arc, this show remains well-worth watching. And I'm looking forward to see what happens in the next season.
On a related note, Adult Swim has apparently stopped running Bleach after episode 52 in favor of showing Death Note (another awesome show you must watch). What the heck? I guess I'm going to have to start looking into Bleach fansubs after all.